Here is a statement issued by the local Maricopa County Attorney about the jury process in the Jodi Arias sentencing trial. This statement was made in an effort to tone down some of the speculation and rhetoric about the lone juror who voted against the death penalty for Jodi Arias.
It is uncommon for judges to punish a juror. It is really uncommon for judges to punish a juror for talking to the media. It is really, really uncommon for judges to punish a juror for talking to the media after that juror has already been dismissed from the case. However, it does happen as evidenced by the prosecution Marla Lloyd.
Lloyd was a juror in the death penalty trial of Shaw Ford. However, she was dismissed from the case prior to the jury reaching a verdict. Sometime after the verdict but before sentencing Lloyd spoke to the media about the case. Her actions, according to the prosecution, violated the judge's gag order for all jurors. As a result, she is now being prosecuted for contempt of court.
Loyd's prosecution is troubling for a variety of reasons. First, what is the purpose of her prosecution? Put differently, what does the prosecution or judge hope to obtain with a conviction? Second, why isn't this prosecution an infringement on Loyd's 1st Amendment rights? Third, how far can a judge go in restricting others from discussing things that occur in a courtroom? Could a judge tell jurors or prospective jurors that they may never talk about the case? It appears to me that once Lloyd was released from jury duty, the judge no longer had jurisdiction or authority to regulate what she said.
Here is an interesting article that briefly discusses how jurors may receive information in the future. With virtual reality, jurors will have the opportunity to see a 3-D visual reconstruction of evidence such as a crime scene. According to the article, "[o]ne benefit of a digital reconstruction is that it offers the opportunity to remove details as well as add them – something that might be useful for jury members presented with a potentially traumatic scene, or one with distracting and irrelevant details."
Post-verdict discussions between the court and discharged jurors are prohibited unless those discussions are part of a hearing ordered on good cause shown pursuant to Rule 1:16-1.
Discussions that jurors have while deliberating should remain shielded from litigants, attorneys, and the public eye. Therefore, only with the court’s permission, and on good cause shown, may an attorney or litigant speak to any juror with respect to any matter relating to the case. Requesting that a jury participate in questioning following discharge should only occur after a strong showing that a litigant may have been harmed by jury misconduct. This standard balances the litigant’s interest in ensuring an impartial jury with the importance of keeping deliberations secret. A judge’s ability to inquire of jurors after trial is similarly limited except where Rule 1:16-1 provides good cause to do so, and then only in the presence of counsel. Generally, discussions between the trial court and jurors, without the presence of counsel, are inappropriate and improper during and after trial.
The Chicago Tribune has a very interesting article on a jury bill (SB 3075) that recently passed the Illinois legislature. The bill was sponsored by Representative Kelly Burke and supported by the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association.
The bill reduces the number of civil jurors from 12 to 6 and increases juror pay from $25 to $50 a day. According to the newspaper, this bill may sound good and make for a good press release, but it is bad for the state because it hasn't been properly vetted and raises a host of concerns.